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To all the woodworkers here hello. I am new to this forum and to woodworking. I am thinking about working on some projects that will need a dado groove and was wondering what the consensus was. Should I use my router with a straight bit or buy a dado blade for a table saw. What has worked best for you? :help:
 

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There is nothing in your profile to show what router or table saw you have, if any.

If you already have a router, than the router, a straight cutting bit and an adjustable dado jig is the easiest way to go.

IMO, it is quicker to set up a dado jig for the width of the cut than it is to instal, adjust and test a dado blade. (and may be much cheaper).

Other opinions may vary.
 

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Doug
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Jer,

If just a couple of dados, or if they are in small pieces of wood, then I say router.

If you are going to be building a bunch of kitchen cabinets or bookcases, the tablesaw is easier in my experience.

Of course, if you have a little portable bench tablesaw, then the router is your only real option.
 

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Just did a kitchen full of cabinets and agree fully with Doug. Would have hated to do all of those with a router! Did a few for 1/4" plywood dividers with the router because 1/4" ply is less than 1/4" and my dado set only goes down to 1/4". That was one of the least fun parts of the entire job! I use the dado set on my table saw(or radial arm sometimes) for most dados.

For small parts? Probably use the router!
 

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Agreed with James, Doug and Dan. I do a lot of dado's, slots and spines...

If I'm doing just a couple dado's then I use a router. If doing blind dado's, easier to see the start and finish points with router. If just doing a few, then the setup time is marking the stock, picking out a bit and setting up jigs, guides or a fence. Each dado may take a few minutes to cut. But to do a just few, the overall time is less than with a Table Saw. Another factor is how wide the dado is to be and how deep. If over 1/4 inch deep. There's going to be more passes to get there. Usually (depending on the operator), the quality of the dado is finished quality.

If more than a few, then a dado blade set on a table saw.. Takes a few minutes more to set up. I have to set the width of the stack, but I have charts to look at for that. I have a bit extra than others to setup on my saw, as I have to shim the left edge of dado set back "into" the arbor flange // away from the sliding table on the left... but have charts for that also. Still saves time (overall) if doing more than a few at a time. Then change blade inserts to a dado/molder insert. Each dado takes seconds to cut. The quality of the dado depends on the quality of the dado stack and how sharp it is.

Like someone else posted, not all table saws have a long enough arbor for a dado stack. Then also recommended is that it has at least a 1-1/2 hp motor. Then it'll need a dado blade insert to replace the blade insert. Dado sets run between $40 to $350, depending on the quality.

Comparatively, you can cut a dado with any router, with either a straight, mortising or spiral bit. Cost for tooling is lower than tooling up for dado's on a table saw. Dado jigs and guides you can make yourself. (I love the one that James mentioned...)
 

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Technically, a dado is across the grain and therefore; I choose to use a router, but for a groove - which is parallel to long grain, I will always choose a tablesaw. For tapered slots, I always go with router and my homemade jigs. Many people are buffaloed by dado joints, but I love them - they are super strong and reliable. My router-cut dadoes are NEVER made with only one router pass always two passes for width and sometimes two passes again for depth. A good dado is worth the time to do that + the jig never gets moved, just the turret gets rotated.

Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia
 

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Most of the time I use my dado set but that is because I usually have a few to do. Also, using the table saw fence to space the grooves is far more accurate than locating them individually from piece to piece with a measuring tape. If the piece is too big or too long to handle on the TS then the router is the best.
 

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Infinity makes a jig for using routers for cutting dados, that thing is very fast and flexible. I have been using router almost exclusive and have had very good luck. Just remember 3/4" plywood is not 3/4" so use a decimal equivalent chart and a pair of calipers to use the correct size router bit.

Just my opinion,
-Eloy
 
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